A Portrait of the Artist as a Young B(itch)

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Some of you may or may not know this (depends on how much you pay attention to my blathering), but I am quite the educated lady. I don’t mean that I’m smart or wise or know shit, though. I mean I’ve had a breadth of education.

In spite of approximately a decade of higher education, I still consider myself pretty much an imbecile.

When I first moved to California, I had just graduated high school. I went to community college for two years, where I did what I always planned on doing – majoring in studio arts. But as time wore on, the obsessive nagging of my parents to “do something more realistic” got to me so I changed my major to political science and philosophy. After earning a bachelor’s degree, I went on to graduate school in philosophy, became terribly disillusioned with the entire process, left graduate school and have since been floundering around.

To some degree, I’m pretty happy with my current life. I homeschool, which in a way is teaching – it just isn’t a room full of college kids, or (for the most part) philosophy that I’m teaching. And I get to have the time to be a writer, which is cool.

But something in the back of my mind (heart, soul, whathaveyou) has not been satisfied in all of this. I miss being an artist.

Semester after semester has gone by that I have attempted to take an art class at the local college; or to start drawing and painting on my own – neither thing I have done in over 10 years. I thought that after I renounced majoring in studio arts, I really needed to renounce art altogether to be comfortable with doing that. And so it has been a struggle to get back into it. I find excuses not to draw or paint on my own. Classes I have signed up for have been canceled, or I have found a reason not to take them in the end.

Then last night, I got passed into a class that was full at the local community college by my former studio arts advisor and teacher. He remembered me. He was happy to add me, in spite of the fact that the class was already filled to capacity. Today the class began.

But there are things that come along with going “back to school” that strike me as odd, maybe annoying – even when I’m just going for fun.

#1 Student Parking = State of Nature With Cars

I never used to have problems parking at school. There were always spots, and where I wanted to park. I never had to get to class an hour or two early just to have a place to put my car. Now it’s different, though. Now you have to very carefully manipulate yourself around the parking lot to get a spot.

You have to defend your prized place with everything you have in you too. After parking my car today (something that took twenty minutes and an hour early to class to do), I saw two guys get out of their cars and begin to fist fight for a spot. As I walked to class I heard someone screaming obscenities out their window.

Student parking is like the state of nature with cars. It’s nasty. It’s brutal. But if you don’t hold your ground, you won’t get a spot and you’ll miss your class. With a student body of roughly 12,000, it seems like the college could work to have better and more adequate parking availability. But then again, maybe this is a part of weeding out the weaklings. Only the true warriors will survive in this community college.

#2 Artists Have Too Much Freedom

I realized today a big part of why I have avoided doing art on my own for so long – there is too much freedom in it. After I changed to a political science and philosophy major – and especially when I went to graduate school – I fell into that groove of doing exactly what I was told. Papers could be about one topic, and one topic only. And it was the topic you were told. Essay length was no more and no less than what the professor told you as well.

You can imagine, then, my response today when my professor said “projects this semester are entirely based on you and what you want to do … it will be your topics, your ideas, and whatever medium you wish to use.” I almost passed out. Choice? Freedom? My ideas? These are concepts I abandoned a long, long time ago.

#3 There’s Always That One Asshole…

Something I absolutely despise about community college classes is there is always that one asshole that has to show off to the teacher. It’s as if they designate this person in the registrar’s office in the beginning of each term. “OK, we need some total jerk off that will interrupt the teacher, try and impress everyone with facts, ask way too many questions, and share a plethora of personal information no one else in the class wants to know.”

It never fails. Every single damned class I have ever taken has been like that. These people in community colleges – no matter how old, how seasoned, how experienced they are – just don’t know when to shut the hell up.

This class is no exception.

This lady in the class (and I call her “lady” using the term loosely, really I just want to signify that she is clearly older than me), will not shut up. She asked no less than forty-five questions today. She talked and talked and fuggin’ talked over the teacher. She rambled when her name came up during roll. She rambled when other people’s names came up. And just when the class was about to dismiss, she asked a detailed question that absolutely required a detailed answer.

Ugh.

So our first assignment to kick start all of this free-will-do whatever you’d like-stuff is to do a self-portrait. Of course even that is loosey-goosey: we can do something that isn’t even an image of ourselves, just what we think of when we think of “me.” I started snapping photos of myself today to see what I could come up with, and this photo below is my favorite. It really depicts all the levels of my psychosis. I think I’ll call it A Portrait of the Artist as a Young B(itch). Or – alternatively – Psychotic Nosepicker, a Study.

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Top 5 Worst Dates of All Time

You know you’ve had them.  We all have.  A person you meet has a lot in common with you; you seem to get along well, for some reason or another you think they may be date-able.  Either you or they take the plunge and ask “you want to go…” and next thing you know you’re shaving on a day you wouldn’t normally shave and rolling on an extra dab of deodorant for just a little extra protection for the big night – the big night of disappointment.  Be it an awkward conversation, a comment that ended up being rude, bad service, or a tragic series of events gone afoul, the fact remains that we’ve all been on them:  bad dates.

It doesn’t always have to be a first date, sometimes you are well on your way to coupledom – it even could be with a (current or future) spouse (you will note, #3 was a date with my husband).  Here are my top five worst:

#5 Let’s Not Beat Around The Bush, Here…

My least horrible date of all time was with a guy that I had hung around with a little while in community college.  We were in a few classes together and long story short, friends led to him asking me out one day towards the end of my last semester in community college.  On the evening of that terribly tragic night out, though, he picked me up and drove me straight to the town make-out spot and said “let’s not beat around the bush, here … I want you, you want me …” Twenty minutes later I was at home, still hungry because I had thought we were going out for dinner.

#4 The Night I Was Promoted To Therapist

And then there was that one guy that I also met at community college, a little bit before #5.  This one was slightly worse only because I had gone out with him once or twice before the worst date occurred.  I had started actually liking him, and we had a fun time.  And then we went to the harbor for smoothies and to watch the boats one day and he ended up unloading all of life’s problems on me.  His childhood was awful, his family was dysfunctional – an hour and a half later, I learned he had been diagnosed bi-polar and obsessive compulsive.  I felt like I should charge him an hourly fee for my time.

#3 Macaroni and Cheese Gone Bad

My poor husband, being made an example.  This date is more humorous than bad, but it nonetheless makes it on the list.  When we had first started dating, my husband and I had a conversation about variations to making macaroni and cheese, which turned into a “well let’s make some and hang out and watch movies!”  On the blessed evening, we watched Blue Velvet and made macaroni with barbeque sauce in it, and (again, my poor husband) thought he would wax eloquent and suggest we drink some wine with our mac and movie.  As I learned that night, though, he doesn’t have much of a tolerance for alcohol, and so three or four glasses in he was pretty tipsy.  This wouldn’t have even been an issue if only he hadn’t gone in to describing for me an article he recently read about women and arousal.  Another thing I learned about my husband that night is that when he drinks he talks louder, and louder, and louder until he is yelling in your face.

#2 We’ve Got A Bleeder!

A real doosie, number two was with a guy I also met (surprise! surprise!) at community college, immediately after I moved to California.  When I first came I knew very few people, so was pretty amenable to just about anything.  Even going out with a guy that had no car to drive me in, who had planned a romantic evening of playing video games in the family room of his parent’s home.  As this winner of an evening came to a close, I was walking outside to my car and – despite all of my cues that a goodnight kiss was not going to be given – he forced one on me anyway, biting down on my lips so hard that I bled the entire way home.  The next day in class, he was referring to me as his girlfriend and then broke up with me three days after that when he saw me flirting with another guy.

#1 What Women Want

The #1, all time worst date I have ever been on wasn’t even supposed to be a date.  A guy I met at my first California job asked me to see the new (at the time) Mel Gibson flick, What Women Want and while I said I wasn’t ready to date (having just broken up with my boyfriend), I was still willing to hang out with the guy.  When I showed up at the movie theater (we met because, as it turned out, he didn’t have a car either, and was trying to conceal that from me), he clearly had made it a date despite my protests.  A part of the way through the film – I think around when Gibson does that horrible pantyhose in the bathroom number – he asked if I would be offended if he put his arm around me.  I can still remember, vividly, myself replying “look, I am not ready for dating and I really would be offended.”  And yet, he put it around me anyway.  This was not what made it the worst, though.  No, no, no, fine blog followers – this date had not even gotten to its worst point yet.  A few minutes after putting his arm around me, Don Juan who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer began scratching himself, which he proceeded in doing for the remainder of the film.  I thought he must have something wrong with him, so never hung out with him again.  Of course years later, many of my male friends informed me that he wasn’t actually scratching.

So there you have it, my Top 5 Worst Dates of All Time.  Lessons learned?  Apparently dating guys you meet at community college is not a good idea.  And bring a credit machine so you can charge an hourly rate for therapy if things end up going that way.  Being married, Date Nights that go awry fortunately can be remedied by going home and heading to our separate corners of the household.

What are your five worst dates?